So, any time you eat foods that contain gluten, you don't feel so great after. Understandably, you suspect you might have celiac disease and should start following a strict gluten-free diet.
Before you make any drastic changes to your nutrition and stop eating gluten completely, start with our basic celiac disease quiz to gain a better understanding of whether eating gluten truly is having a negative impact on you.
This online assessment will help you determine what steps you should take next.
Please note that this test is not intended to give you a medical diagnosis. In order to receive a full medical diagnosis, you need to get a blood test and also speak with a healthcare provider. In some cases, your doctor might also want to conduct an intestinal biopsy.
eNational's celiac panel is a simple blood draw. The results will be returned to you in three to six business days. Should you need to follow up for more guidance, you'll have the opportunity to speak with a clinician.
Okay, let's dive in with some important questions.
The above symptoms are common in people experiencing celiac disease.
However, answering "yes" to all of the questions in this assessment does not mean you're diagnosed. (Similarly, and perhaps oddly, you can have celiac disease and not show any symptoms at all!)
You still need to speak with a physician and get tested. This will help confirm if you have this autoimmune condition or something else.
That's a great question! How come some people can handle gluten just fine while others feel awful after consuming it?
Well, let's talk a little bit about how the body breaks down food.
Digestive enzymes help take the food you eat and break it down so that you can either use it or eliminate it. One such enzyme is protease.
Protease helps you process proteins, and gluten is a protein! It's found in wheat and some grains.
The problem is that while protease is good at breaking down proteins in general, it's not so great at breaking down gluten specifically. So, this unprocessed gluten just sits there until it finds its way to the small intestine.
This is where things might go wrong.
At this point in the digestion process, some people can handle that gluten just fine. Other people, however, react to it. They experience an autoimmune response, where the body thinks it's under attack even though it isn't. So, it basically responds with a counter-attack, and that's why you experience these symptoms.
Why is it that some people's small intestines can't handle the breakdown of gluten? While science hasn't yet confirmed this, one possibility is an intestinal lining that's too permeable, meaning that substances can easily pass through it.
This means that undigested gluten, along with bacteria and other "bad guys," can potentially leak through the lining and enter the bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation, which can trigger even more health problems.
While it would be nice to take a pill and watch as your celiac disease symptoms disappear, unfortunately, that's not an option.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, the only way to treat celiac disease is to stick to a gluten-free diet.
Now, will you die if you're a celiac and you eat gluten? No. In fact, ingesting a little gluten may not even cause any long-term damage. However, the threshold amount to avoid any damage is very small, about 10 mg of gluten daily.
However, if consuming gluten-containing items makes you feel rotten, it's important to note this. If you experience these symptoms — like diarrhea and vomiting — regularly, those could cause damage.
This is why you might want to stick to gluten-free foods. (More on this in a minute!)
Yes, there's a difference!
Celiac disease is an actual autoimmune disorder.
Gluten intolerance, on the other hand, is a sensitivity to gluten. These symptoms can look a little different and include:
If this sounds more like a typical allergic reaction, that's because it is — to wheat!
Here's a quick rundown:
These days, you can find gluten-free substitutes for most of these items at your grocery store.
However, we encourage you to check the list of ingredients. Very often, when manufacturers remove one ingredient, they replace it with others that are just as undesirable.
Maybe you were diagnosed with celiac disease. Maybe you weren't. The best advice we can give you is this. Are you ready?
Eat things that make you feel good and avoid eating things that make you feel bad.
As we said earlier, if you get a positive diagnosis of celiac disease, then the only adequate course of action is to adhere to a gluten-free diet.
If you determine that you have a gluten intolerance, the same approach will likely be your best bet. Go gluten-free.
However, we want to caution you against going gluten-free simply because it's trendy. In recent years, many celebrities have claimed that a gluten-free diet keeps them young, slim, and healthy. This helps us explain all of the gluten-free alternatives lining grocery store shelves.
However, unless your physician has told you to follow a gluten-free diet due to your diagnosis, then you can probably safely consume gluten.
Another word of caution: Things aren't always as they appear.
You might notice that after eating bread, pasta, and cupcakes, you experience the same symptoms. Maybe you get bloated and gassy, or a nagging headache brings down your day.
Gluten might appear to be the common denominator... but it's not 100% certain.
It could be carbs, in general, that your gut doesn't love. Or perhaps it's processed food. Or the type of sugar in what you're eating!
This is why it can sometimes be hard to figure out what's truly causing your symptoms.
If you've tried eliminating certain foods or food groups and still can't figure out what's causing your symptoms, then food allergy and sensitivity testing can help.
If you've determined that you're experiencing celiac disease or another type of gluten intolerance, you might feel bummed about needing to change your diet so drastically — especially if you have to do it for life.
However, this isn't the end for those with celiac disease!
Rest assured that when both cooking at home and eating out, there are plenty of ways to avoid gluten — and the nasty symptoms you might be experiencing — while still having a memorable culinary experience.
And just think about how amazing you're going to feel digging into a delicious plate and not having the annoying cramps, headaches, joint pain, and diarrhea afterward!
If you need ideas for what you can eat, the Celiac Disease Foundation has plenty of recipes.